Many moons ago, I wrote about doing one thing at once for mental peace and clarity.
Today, I’m adding a caveat to that, in that actually, if you have a brain like mine, then doing two things at once might be a better approach.
I’m still a firm believer in mindfulness practice, in which you are indeed doing just that one thing: listening, tasting, smelling, watching thoughts, focusing on breath… but I also really believe that for people with busy lives and busier brains, spending much of your day trying to do two things at once can be extremely beneficial.
For myself, it’s all about ‘switching off’ and for me this is just about getting away from distractions and being immersed in something, rather than being scatter-brained. In a way, this is probably less switching off or zoning out, and more zooming in. It’s just about being totally absorbed in the present moment. Either way, the end result is a calm, clear mind, which is all that matters.
Here are some example activities that I find work for me:
- Yoga: You’re moving and following instruction, but your mind is focused on your breath.
- Camping: It’s a new hobby that I’m trying, and it’s a little out of my comfort zone, but it’s also completely absorbing. Yes, you’re on holiday, but you’ve got a tent to set up, dinner to cook, a fire to make.
- Hiking: The more difficult the path, the better. I can only focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
- Driving: I love a good mindful drive. I focus on the road, but I might also be listening to the sounds around me and using my senses.
Everyone’s different and what works for me might not be your cup of tea. I will say that exercise always helps, because… endorphins but it’s not essential.
All I know for sure is that when I do these things that require me to actually do something – a task to perform without distraction – my usual brain chatter fades away and I step completely into the present moment.